Shift Workers and Sleep

Dr. Shelby Harris on how shift work can affect your health.
5:07 | 12/29/11

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Transcript for Shift Workers and Sleep
-- -- study by the American Medical Association finds that more than 40% of police officers suffer from sleep disorders. Which can lead to health problems as well as poor job performance shift work can make it difficult to get the recommended hours of sleep at the AMA found. But it's not just police officers that are affected doctors nurses even those of us working in the TV industry. -- based long shifts and late hours so how can we all cope. Joining me now is doctor Shelby Harris director of behavioral sleep medicine at the -- York medical center. After Harris great to see you thanks for being here thanks for having so tell a little bit about what police officers in -- Secular face. Right so please -- is -- working sometimes they're working just the night shift sometimes are working extra long shifts and sometimes they're working. Rotating shifts day winds at one day -- evenings and night. And that can create for some people should -- sleep disorder. Which makes them feel very sleepy when they should be working and have trouble sleeping during the day can have a whole host of other problems so of course it's not just police officers who -- seeing suffering from this. Problem -- -- the where the people that you see most often with this problem so I think it's anybody who tends to work outside of the typical hours even people who work really early morning like 630 before 6:30 in the morning or evening after 430. It can be people who work for the transit authority of the people who work in hospital -- It really depends there's a lot of people were doing -- What is the key to doing it successfully because let's face it in this economy we can always pick our hours we might take the work that comes to. So so many people simply don't have a choice that let -- take these shifts -- what's the key. To handling it and staying healthy right so there are some lucky few people who have no problem with that it all. But you really the goal is to get -- -- heating Wear them aligned as much as possible civil programmed to sleep at night. And be awake during a day into the daylight set something off and our -- exactly so the best thing to do is to really keep those rhythms and line. And it's not easy but to go to bed at the same time seven days a week to even days you have -- So that's really the best thing to do the other things you could really do or maybe instead of working the night's all week. On the weekends people go to bed -- like 11 PM to -- their family. Maybe they thought a little later -- meeting between surfing on the database 7 AM most days we are working right thing about it. 3 AM instead of 11 PM some -- little -- -- -- you can spend -- with your family. It's just the jump between night and day night and day with sleep is very difficult and what lead to down the road so we can lead to various things of that sleepiness and -- -- during work fatigue and all that think it's -- -- can cause accidents of war can climb as irritability attention concentration problems. We see a lot of people who getting motor vehicle accidents when they're driving home from work. So down on things and some people in reports them distress from and weight gain because you're not sleeping well right and and there is that the shift snacking that occurs and I -- CNN's -- It's overnight you're tired -- you're working your your. Snacking to write your energy up and keep you -- exactly so really trying to be very cognizant of the -- happening also a lot of people have caffeine -- -- -- the night right -- caffeine and -- earlier in the evening and then stop them the second half of the -- -- that's really important now also how important -- -- -- -- -- consecutive sleep because -- -- lot of people that work. Overnights well then. Have sort of shift naps during the day could try to get things done -- trying to see their family so they say had I get -- let's say get home at 7 AM I honestly -- eleven. Run some -- see my kids take another nap in the afternoon and maybe another quick nap before going into work right does that work -- is it -- to get the -- idealist is set aside 78 hour right. Darkness in your house to really you -- Like -- -- and tell family leave me alone but that's not always practical -- Little chunks of three or four hours where you're getting a -- 78 hours. Isn't nice compromise for some people if it keeping it during the daytime as opposed to switching back and forth so that Taylor. So keep it dark and James Short -- if you can -- and then a lot of bright light during night when you need to be -- and how important is it to try to get to bed in the morning before the sun comes up. You know it's. It's important but it's not practical -- what we tell people is bright bright light at night and then stop the bright -- two hours before -- critical time. When you start going home usually the sun's coming up at that win put on sunglasses. And let Tom get back into dark light or dark room again and of course it never hurts to invest in apparent blackout shades it's a very important for anyway shift -- not the right and then I -- to Wear the -- -- helps to -- I have to say. The earplugs airplanes are important and Italian family to leave me alone -- -- don't call you at all the errands and right guest turn off the following -- the other thing really important have to take it seriously yes treats the daylight hours. As differently than the nighttime you really need to -- to train your body to sleep when he's asleep. If you're switching with the rhythms and to be -- at other times thank you so much doctor Shelby -- it's my pleasure thanks for having me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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